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In January 29 Advocacy Day, ARVO Members Among First to Request FY2011 NIH Funding at $35 Billion


Participants on their way to the House included: Front Row: Daniel Stamer, Ph.D., FARVO (University of Arizona); Terri Young, M.D., FARVO (Duke University Eye Center); Marilyn Schneck, Ph.D. (University of California Berkeley/Smith Kettlewell Institute); Ido Perlman, Ph.D. (Technion – Israel Institute of Technology); Seang-Mei Saw, M.D., Ph.D (National University of Singapore); Kirsten Lampi, Ph.D. (Oregon Health & Science University); Back Row: Leopold Schmetterer Ph.D. (Medical University of Vienna)
As in past years, ARVO researchers from the Annual Meeting Program Committee were among the first on Capitol Hill in the new legislative session to advocate for increased funding for the National Institutes of Health NIH), generally, and the National Eye Institute (NEI), specifically. In 35 visits, the 13 domestic and 9 international advocates, who were hosted by ARVO and NAEVR staff, urged Members of the 111th Congress, Second Session, to support Fiscal Year (FY) 2011 NIH funding at $35 billion to fully leverage and maintain the current momentum of research. In initial comments, the researchers thanked the offices for the $18.5 million increase in FY2010 NEI funding, as well as the $175 million two-year funding that NEI received of the $10.4 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funding. They then emphasized that, due to the combination of "regular" and stimulus appropriations, the NIH biomedical research enterprise has been funded at a net level of $35 billion in FY2009 and FY2010. A funding level of at least $35 billion in FY2011 would be necessary to prevent a reduction in the number of grants.

The researchers shared a one-page fact sheet of examples of ARRA-supported NEI research, which was prepared by NAEVR. Five of the domestic advocates had received ARRA funding, which they described in greater detail with respect to its scientific and economic impact. This included John Ash, Ph.D., Joseph Carroll, Ph.D., Marc Kantorow, Ph.D., Leonard Levin, M.D., Ph.D., FARVO, and W. Daniel Stamer, Ph.D., FARVO. "For many Hill offices, this was the first opportunity to meet ARRA-funded researchers and learn about implications of their work to prevent blindness and restore vision, as well as to retain or hire staff," said NAEVR Executive Director James Jorkasky, who accompanied the researchers along with NAEVR Advocacy Manager David Epstein. NAEVR had already made numerous Capitol Hill visits with offices of key appropriators to pre-qualify for the ARVO researchers the NIH/NEI funding messages that would most resonate with staff.

The following Monday, February 1, the President released his FY2011 budget proposal, which included a $1 billion, or 3.2 percent increase for NIH, to a level of $32.2 billion. The NEI would receive an increase of $17.3 million, or 2.4 percent, to a level of $724.36 million.

Participants not shown in the images include: Leonard Levin, M.D., Ph.D., FARVO (University of Montreal/University of Wisconsin), John Ash, Ph.D. (University of Oklahoma Health Science Center), Muna Naash, Ph.D., FARVO (University of Oklahoma Health Science Center), and Motohiro Kamei, M.D. (Osaka University Graduate School of Medicine)

Maarten Kamermans, Ph.D. (Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience, left) joined Joseph Carroll, Ph.D. (Medical College of Wisconsin, right) in a meeting with Amy Bos, office of Rep. James Sensenbrenner (D-WI)
Maarten Kamermans, Ph.D. (Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience, left) joined Joseph Carroll, Ph.D. (Medical College of Wisconsin, right) in a meeting with Amy Bos, office of Rep. James Sensenbrenner (D-WI)
Christopher Hammond, M.D. (Kings College London/St. Thomas’ Hospital, left), joined  ARVO Executive Vice President Sally Atherton, Ph.D., FARVO (Medical College of Georgia , right), in meeting with Francie Powers from the office of Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA)
Christopher Hammond, M.D. (Kings College London/St. Thomas’ Hospital, left), joined ARVO Executive Vice President Sally Atherton, Ph.D., FARVO (Medical College of Georgia , right), in meeting with Francie Powers from the office of Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA)
Marc Kantorow, Ph.D. (Florida Atlantic University, center) and his wife, Wanda Lee, Ph.D. (Florida Atlantic University, right) meet with Bill Couch, office of Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL)
Marc Kantorow, Ph.D. (Florida Atlantic University, center) and his wife, Wanda Lee, Ph.D. (Florida Atlantic University, right) meet with Bill Couch, office of Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL)
Giovanni Staurenghi, M.D. (University of Milan, left) and Rajiv Mohan, Ph.D. (Mason Eye Institute/University of Missouri-Columbia, center) met with Mark Fleury, Ph.D., a medical researcher on the staff of Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO)
Giovanni Staurenghi, M.D. (University of Milan, left) and Rajiv Mohan, Ph.D. (Mason Eye Institute/University of Missouri-Columbia, center) met with Mark Fleury, Ph.D., a medical researcher on the staff of Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO)
Patricia Chevez-Barrios M.D. (Methodist Hospital Houston, left) , Chea-Su Kee, Ph.D. (Hong Kong Polytechnic University, standing) and Sarah Coupland, Ph.D. (University of Liverpool, right) met with Emily Dillard, office of Senator John Cornyn (R-TX)
Patricia Chevez-Barrios M.D. (Methodist Hospital Houston, left) , Chea-Su Kee, Ph.D. (Hong Kong Polytechnic University, standing) and Sarah Coupland, Ph.D. (University of Liverpool, right) met with Emily Dillard, office of Senator John Cornyn (R-TX)
Dr. Perlman, left and Dr.  Schneck, right, with Liz Miller, office of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA
Dr. Perlman, left, and Dr. Schneck, right, with Liz Miller, office of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)